Over the past few seasons, especially as ownership issues and troubles on the ice diminished the core season-ticket fanbase and it became tougher and tougher to fill the AAC on the nightly basis, the Dallas Stars have resorted to some interesting but costly tactics to try and get as many people as possible to go out to the games. These measures included several promotions that basically gave tickets away (free kids tickets last season) as well as a very successful promotion for college students.
All of these tactics turned heading to a Dallas Stars game the cheapest ticket in the NHL, with what seems like an incredibly amount of tickets basically being given away for free. It's a debatable tactic and one that has been used with various degrees of success around the NHL. The Nashville Predators, famous for having a dedicated fanbase that fills the building every night, saw a huge jump in ticket giveaways last season. It's a clear sign that a slumping team will have a definite impact on ticket sales, especially in markets such as Nashville and Dallas.
For the Stars, this tactic has seemed to worked with various degrees of success. Team CEO Jim Lites has done a tremendous job turning around the sales and marketing departments since the purchase of the team in November 2011, and this is the first summer since then that the Stars have been able to fully utilize their true marketing and sales strategy to rebuild the fanbase.
The biggest and most important part of that task has already been addressed. The Stars hired GM Jim Nill and turned over the coaching staff, while also aggressively changing the complexion and make-up of the roster. There's an excitement building around what the Stars are going to be able to accomplish this season and in the future, and now is when the sales team is set to start building on that momentum.
The team has now turned its focus to rebuilding the most important part of any franchise's fanbase -- the season ticket holders. The numbers of STH for the Stars the past five years has absolutely plummeted, and with the ticket giveaways of the past few years and other various promotions there has been a feeling that season tickets have been devalued a bit.
During the jersey reveal event, which was put on for around 3,000 STH, it was made clear that there would be a renewed importance and value placed on those that become full or partial season ticket holders. Coupled with the product on the ice, this new focus on the STH base of fans has almost certainly had the desired effect for the Stars; we don't have the actual numbers, but we've heard that season ticket sales are doing extremely well and a bit better than expected at this point.
Not every fan can afford season tickets, even a half-season plan, and it was easy to sense that there was a growing discontent of the fans that aren't and can't be part of that STH core. Would they be left behind by marketing as ticket prices rose and we'd suddenly be back in the same situation as the early 2000's, when many individual fans felt they had been left in the dust by the Stars marketing and sales efforts?
This season, the Stars have brought back a version of the dynamic and premium ticketing system used a few years back. This means that the "premium games" -- those against the Chicago Blackhawks or Red Wings or Montreal Canadiens -- would see as much as a 10 percent rise in value compared to last season. However, there will also be games during the week against lesser opponents that could see a dip in prices compared to the set prices of last season.
As we understand the dynamic pricing system, there will also be a rise in prices as the game approaches. This means that the longer fans wait to buy tickets, the higher that ticket price will be -- especially for premium games.
For those fans looking for the absolute best value, the Stars have unveiled a brand new 9-game mini-plan, with four different options for fans to choose from. These plans will not be subject to the dynamic pricing system, and are offered at incredibly valuable rates on a per-game basis. Most importantly, every single plan will include the "Mike Modano game" on March 8 against the Minnesota Wild. There are also some very affordable payment options for these plans as well.
What this all means is that the Stars are focused on building a very dedicated core fanbase once more. The mini-game plans are perfect for fans looking for the best value, who only go to 9-10 games a season, and can't afford the full season plans. This is also a great way to combat the issue of foreign fans invading the AAC, especially with the premium pricing system going into place.
This entire strategy is clearly built to even out fan attendance throughout the season, and not just for premium games and not just with enemy fans invading the arena. The new pricing system will drive fans to the mini-game plans, or even season tickets, where seats on an individual basis are much more valuable. That, in turn, should provide for a growing a more robust fanbase at the arena throughout the season.
It will be interesting to see how the fans react to these changes, especially after years of tickets basically being given away for free, but you can't say the team management hasn't done their part. Throughout this entire process the fans just wanted to see identifiable and cogent focus on change and improvement and now with an owner willing to spend and a GM given the latitude to accomplish his short and long-term mission, fans are finally starting to feel secure that their financial investment is worth the risk.
There's no guarantees that the Dallas Stars will instantly be better than last season, but it's impossible to deny this franchise is being proactive and aggressive in changing and improving -- and that's pretty much all fans want to see, other than actually seeing playoff hockey for the first time in a very long time.
I'm sure that the change in pricing, as well as some changes to season ticket policies, will result in some grumbling. That's unavoidable when it comes to change, but there's no possible way the Stars could have continued doing business like they have the past few years. Tom Gaglardi opened up the checkbook this past season, something fans are very grateful for, and now the Stars are looking for the best way to run their business while providing the best value for fans.
Since the schedule came out and the pricing systems went into place, we've heard that ticket sales have been much better than expected. Even with the pricing changes, fans are enthusiastic about next season and proving that perhaps this strategy really is working.
Individual tickets for the first few months of the season will go on sale on August 15, and there are still some incredible group rates to take advantage of as well -- saving up to 42% for most games for groups of 15 or more.
So, now we'll wait and see how the business strategy works out. Early returns are apparently encouraging, and it's undeniable that the Stars could not continue to just give tickets away at the rates they have in the past. Other teams -- the Blues, the Predators, and others -- have discovered that it's a risky practice to fill the arena at all costs. Is it more valuable to the franchise to have 5,000 people in the arena for free, or 15,500 at the AAC that have paid for their tickets?
For the Stars, the franchise has entered a point where it's clear the fans are willing to invest in the team once more. That's a very good sign, especially for a team that had become a joke when it came to bankrupt teams in "non-traditional markets." Time to show that there is a very valuable market in Dallas to take advantage of.
Here are the details of the 9-game ticket plans. You can call 214-GO-STARS (like always) for tickets and more information.
FRISCO, Texas - Honoring the historic career of legendary forward Mike Modano, the Dallas Stars today officially unveiled four unique 9-Game Plans. All four plans include the March 8th contest vs. Minnesota in which Modano's #9 will be raised to the rafters at American Airlines Center.
The plans were built with nine games to reflect the jersey number (#9) worn by Modano throughout his career with Dallas. The franchise's all-time leader in nearly every statistical category played 20 seasons with the Stars and helped the team capture the 1999 Stanley Cup.
9-Game Plans offer savings up to 14% off of average individual prices and start at only $216. All 9-Game Plans include the jersey retirement game and each is named in honor of one of Modano's accomplishments in the sport:
The Olympian Plan: Recognizes Modano's representation of the United States on three Olympic teams including the USA's silver medal finish in Salt Lake City in 2002. This plan includes some of the season's biggest games against premium opponents.
Oct. 3 vs. Florida
Nov. 9 vs. Chicago
Nov. 21 vs. N.Y. Rangers
Dec. 10 vs. Chicago
Jan. 4 vs. Detroit
Jan. 23 vs. Toronto
March 1 vs. Tampa Bay
March 8 vs. Minnesota
April 11 vs. St. Louis
The American Plan: Highlights Modano's American-born heritage and his achievement as the greatest American goal-scorer of all time. This plan features games against premier U.S. NHL teams.
Oct. 5 vs. Washington
Nov. 29 vs. Chicago
Dec. 7 vs. Philadelphia
Dec. 31 vs. Los Angeles
Jan. 16 vs. Boston
Jan. 25 vs. Pittsburgh
Jan. 30 vs. New Jersey
March 8 vs. Minnesota
March 28 vs. Nashville
The Champion Weekend Plan: Acknowledges Modano's contributions to the Dallas Stars' Stanley Cup Championship season in 1998-99. Games on this plan fall on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Oct. 26 vs. Winnipeg
Nov. 1 vs. Colorado
Dec. 1 vs. Edmonton
Dec. 27 vs. Nashville
Dec. 29 vs. St. Louis
Jan. 12 vs. N.Y. Islanders
Feb. 8 vs. Phoenix
March 8 vs. Minnesota
March 14 vs. Calgary
The All-Star Weekday Plan: Honors the 7 NHL All-Star selections Mike Modano earned during his career. Games on this plan fall on Monday through Thursday.
Oct. 17 vs. San Jose
Nov. 26 vs. Anaheim
Dec. 19 vs. Vancouver
Jan. 14 vs. Edmonton
Jan. 27 vs. Colorado
Feb. 27 vs. Carolina
March 8 vs. Minnesota
March 24 vs. Winnipeg
April 8 vs. Nashville
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